Divorce is a big commitment.
It’s January, the month that has been labeled “divorce month” so it makes sense to talk about just that, divorce and the commitment it takes to move forward with it.
One definition of commitment is a willingness to give your time and energy to something that you believe in, or a promise or firm decision to do something. On a personal level, people usually associate this definition to positive action like the perfect job, being in a relationship, getting married or having a family. But what if the action isn’t as positive? What if divorce is the activity you are dedicating to? Does that make it any less of a commitment? I say no, it doesn’t. Until you go through it, I’m not sure people realize what a strain it is; on your time, your energy, your finances, your values and your beliefs.
Divorce is very often the decision of 1 person. By making this decision you need to be committed to it and understand the consequences of that decision. This will not just affect you, you are making this decision for your spouse and your children also.
While relationships and marriage have a way out – break ups and divorce, divorce is hard to find a way out of. This is not to say that people don’t get back together HOWEVER it’s not common. It’s a hard road back from divorce, even when it seems to go smoothly and fairly.
I ask all of my clients to make sure that they have no regrets, to confirm that this is the decision they want to take firm action on, to make sure that they have reviewed and dismissed all other options. I do this because I know what a big commitment divorce is. I know the fall out, the emotions, the financials and the practical aspects of this decision.
As I’m sure you know by now if you’ve ever read a blog of mine, I got into mediation because of my own terrible divorce. There were many times that the right person or the right process could have stopped us from heading down the path I was dragged down kicking and screaming (not physically but mentally and emotionally). The legal divorce process created a great amount of animosity, tension, and isolation without offering us any information or opportunities to problem solve. If you are heading down this path, make sure you have no regrets and that you are 100% committed to this divorce. There are actually lots of opportunities to stop, take a breath and pick your next step – be on the look out for them.
As a divorced person and mediator of course I think mediation is a great first step. Mediation offers you the ability to talk. Talk to a neutral third party, talk to each other, talk about what you want, talk about how to move forward and perhaps even talk about what went wrong.
Mediation offers you the autonomy to make decisions, maybe the decision is whether to divorce or not, maybe the decision is how to co-parent, maybe the decision is whether to use lawyers or not, maybe the decision is what to do with the house. It really doesn’t matter what the decisions are.
You may not have made the decision to separate but wouldn’t you appreciate the opportunity to participate in the decisions going forward? To ask your spouse why? To confirm this is really what she or he wants? To find out about the divorce process and your options? To decide together how you will actually divorce?
If you made the decision to separate, do you think that offering to include your spouse in the remaining decisions is worthwhile? Fair? Respectful?
After all, you got into this relationship together, shouldn’t you get out of it together?
Think about how much thought you put into major decisions in your life and how important it was to make sure you were committed to those decisions. To gather information. To acknowledge your emotions. To think about what it meant going forward.
Can you really say that DIVORCE isn’t a big commitment? Your whole life will change, make sure this is the decision that you believe in, that you can stand behind and that you are committed to. When you have done this…remember there are other people involved in your decision and chose the right path forward.
Related blog – Is Divorce Your New Year’s Resolution?